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BMX Bandits

by Philip Brasor

Every regional music scene has its petrie-dish band from which members crawled off to spawn other bands with the same stylistic DNA. In Seattle it was Green River; in Omaha it was Commander Venus. Glasgow has had an internationally recognized rock scene for longer than those two cities, and while Orange Juice and The Pastels are considered the godfathers of the region’s indie pop sensibility, no Glaswegian band has spun off more heavyweights than BMX Bandits.

Formed in 1985 on a lark — the members didn’t expect the group to last longer than one recording session — BMX alumni have founded Teenage Fanclub, The Soup Dragons, Eugenius, Future Pilots and Superstar. Eugene Kelly of The Vaselines (Kurt Cobain’s favorite band) and Steve Jackson of Belle & Sebastian also did time in the band at different stages of its career.

Though the resulting music has covered a wide range of styles and attitudes, it has mostly adhered to singer-songwriter Douglas Stewart’s avowed love of “quirky melodies and the work of Jonathan Richman” — qualities that perfectly describe the group’s newest album, “My Chain.” Stewart is the only original member still permanently with the group, and 20 years on he retains the wide-eyed wonder of his hero, though he’s more willing to utilize electric instruments. Next week, Stewart and current Bandits David Scott and Stuart Kidd will be coming to Japan, where the release of “My Chain” is getting a one-month jump on the rest of the world.